12 January, 2021

Reflection on the Ditchley conference - Living with COVID-19:

Matthew Holehouse, conference rapporteur, reflects on the Living with Covid-19 conference held in October 2020.

"A world permanently without a vaccine for coronavirus seemed quite possible when the Ditchley conference met (largely virtually) to discuss such a scenario in mid-October. The results of the Pfizer/BioNTech phase three study wouldn’t come through for another month, and the idea that mass vaccination programs would be underway in Britain and America by Christmas seemed too much to hope. In such a world, societies would be compelled to choose between attempting to suppress the virus entirely, attempt a so-called herd-immunity strategy, or live in a limbo of recurring lockdowns.  We ended the conference in a position something like that of the scientists at that point: without a vaccine to the social challenges posed by covid-19, but with a much better idea of how the disease attacks societies, and why it has proven so damaging. That damage is in part because it presents such a grave threat to life, economic well-being, and civil liberties. But a common thread in the discussions was on the virus as a dislocating force."

The full article can be found here.